third wave India

Mumbai, Dec 07: With Omicron, the third wave of coronavirus could hit the peak in India by February with cases likely to be reaching up to 1-1.5 lakh a day in the country, but it will be milder than the second wave, Manindra Agarwal, IIT scientist involved in the mathematical projection of trajectory of COVID-19, said. He said in the new forecast, the new variant of SARS-CoV2 has been factored in.

“With the new variant, the current forecast is that India could see the third wave by February but it will be milder than the second wave. So far we have seen that the severity of Omicron is not like the one seen in the Delta variant,” Agarwal informed in media.

He, however, stated that a close eye is being kept on cases in South Africa where many cases of this variant have been recorded. As of now, South Africa has not seen a rise in hospitalization cases. A fresh set of data on the virus and hospitalizations would help in getting a more solid picture.

“It looks like although the new variant has shown high transmissibility, its severity is not like the one seen in the Delta variant,” Agarwal said.

He said as observed during the spread of delta, a mild lockdown (night curfew, restrictions on crowding) can bring down beta substantially. That will significantly reduce the peak value.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) backed Sutra-model had earlier said the third wave of coronavirus could hit the country by October if a new variant, more virulent and transmissible than the Delta, emerges. However, till November end, there was no new variant. It had then revised its forecast to November.

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On November 26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the Covid-19 virus variant detected in South Africa and some other countries as Omicron.

The WHO has also classified the Omicron variant as a ‘Variant of Concern‘. Experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics.

While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity. More information is expected in the next two weeks’ time or so, it said.

India has so far reported 23 cases of the Omicron variant, including 12 on Monday- 2 persons from Maharashtra’s Mumbai.